Just one day after a poll showed support for early voting and increased funding for election administration in Pennsylvania, a new poll from Franklin & Marshall College found that a large majority of Pennsylvania voters also support strengthening the state’s voter ID requirements.
The poll’s findings come as Harrisburg lawmakers prepare to consider a sweeping proposal that would require all voters to show proof of ID at the polls, establish signature verification requirements and implement early, in-person voting in the state.
The F&M poll found that nearly three-quarters of voters support strengthening the state’s current voter ID law, with 74% saying that voters should be required to show ID at the polls. Republicans were much more likely to favor voter ID than Democrats, with 95% of Republicans supporting bolstered voter ID requirements, compared to 47% of Democrats.
Additionally, 81% of voters said county election officials should be required to verify signatures on mail-in ballots with those already on file, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans favoring the idea.
A majority of voters also favored new updates to state election laws, with 59% of voters calling for the state’s Election Code to be revised.
The broad support for voter ID and signature-matching will likely be vindicating for Republicans, who are championing the two proposals as a way to increase election security. State Rep. Seth Grove, who chairs the House State Government Committee, recently introduced an election reform proposal that would establish voter ID, require signature-matching, establish early voting centers and allow curbside voting for disabled voters, among an array of other proposed changes.
Grove told City & State PA on Thursday that the poll underscores the desire for many of the changes outlined in his proposal, House Bill 1300.
“I think within House Bill 1300, there's a lot of popular measures. You see polling for dropboxes – we have dropboxes. Satellite offices? We have satellite offices. We have in-person early voting, right? So we have all these provisions for increasing access and then we have increased security features – voter ID, signature verification – people are supporting those measures, as well,” Grove said.
“[The poll] just validates what we're doing in House Bill 1300. It has a lot of the popular measures both Republicans and Democrats like, which is why it's such a good bill.”
Gov. Tom Wolf, however, has expressed strong objections to components in Grove’s bill, including voter ID requirements and moving voter registration and ballot application deadlines further away from Election Day. Grove wrote to Wolf this week urging a meeting with the governor after initial election reform talks broke down, and Wolf responded by saying “voter ID and similar attempts at voter suppression are non-starters with my administration.”
“Instead of pandering to the conspiracists and trying to silence the voices of Pennsylvanians, in the near term, we should be working on a bipartisan basis to address a few limited priorities upon which we can agree,” Wolf wrote, expressing an openness to working with Grove on issues like expanding time for counties to process ballots, increasing pay for election workers and providing more funding to counties – all of which are including in HB 1300.
Grove, however, suggested Thursday that HB 1300 may be the governor’s one chance to get some of the election reforms he’s seeking.
“If this bill gets shut down by the governor, we're not coming back to election reform,” he told City & State. “We've got to go do congressional redistricting and we've got to move on to other priorities. So, if counties want their entire wish list done, they better go start talking to the governor.”
The F&M poll surveyed 444 registered voters – 205 Democrats, 177 Republicans and 62 independents – from June 7 through 13. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 6.4%.
The poll also asked Pennsylvania voters their thoughts on the most pressing issues facing the state. The coronavirus pandemic is no longer the top issue concerning voters, with only 7% listing the pandemic as their chief concern. Instead, 30% listed “government and politicians” as the chief concern facing Pennsylvania, with another 15% identifying the economy as their top worry.
Wolf’s approval numbers also saw a drop since last year, with 52% of voters believing Wolf was doing an “excellent” or “good” job in July 2020. This month, however, just 39% of respondents said the same.